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Sonoma County Prosecutors’ Association (SCPA)

2018 - 2019 SCPAMemorandum of Understanding: Article 20: Agency Shop Service Fee

Sonoma County Prosecutors’ Association

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20.1 Association – Fair and Equal Representation

It is recognized that the Association must provide fair and equal representation to all employees in all represented classes without regard to Association membership or non-membership. 

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20.2 Agency Shop – Service Fee

As a condition of employment, all represented employees must be members or service fee payers of the Association.  If any employee does not voluntarily apply for membership or service fee status within 45 days of the effective date of this Section or within 45 days of beginning work, whichever is later, the County shall enroll the employee as a service fee payer automatically and by default.  The County shall deduct the service fee from the employee’s paycheck.

Payroll deductions shall be made bi-weekly.  However, the initial deduction for any employee shall not begin unless either a voluntary authorization for deduction of Association dues or a service fee has been properly executed or the 45-day application period for considering voluntary enrollment has expired.  Changes in the amount of the monthly membership dues must be delivered to the Auditor-Controller, Payroll Division, at least thirty (30) calendar days prior to the last pay day of the calendar month prior to the change becoming effective.

A represented employee may revoke his/her voluntary authorization for deduction of Association dues only as provided in Article 20.17 (Maintenance of Membership) of this MOU.  Any represented employee who revokes his/her voluntary authorization for membership shall be immediately enrolled as a service fee payer.  All sums deducted by the County shall be remitted to the Association at an address given to the County by the Association, by the tenth (10) calendar day following the pay period when the deductions were made, together with a list of names and the amount deducted for each employee for whom a deduction was made.  The County will also notify the Association of the name of each employee who revokes his “Voluntary Authorization for Deduction of Association Dues.”  This does not apply to “Special Assessments or penalties” levied by the Association that are over and above the regular paid dues.

The County shall not be liable to the Association by reason of the requirements of this Article for the remittance or payment of any sum other than that constituting actual deductions made from the pay earned by the employees.  In addition, the Association shall indemnify and hold the County harmless from any liability resulting from any and all claims, demands, suits or any other action arising from compliance with this Article or in reliance on any list, notice, certification or authorization furnished under this Article. 

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20.3 Agency Shop – Religious Exemption

Any employee who is a member of a religious organization whose traditional tenets or teachings include objections to joining or financially supporting employee organizations shall not be required to join or financially support the Association.  Such employee(s) shall execute a written declaration that the employee is a member of a bona fide religion, body or sect which holds a conscientious objection to joining or financially supporting any public employee organization as a condition of employment.  Such employee(s) shall pay, in lieu of a service fee a sum equal to such fee to a non-religious, non-labor charitable fund(s) exempt from taxation, chosen by the employee from those charities listed with the charitable federations that participate in the County’s combined fund drive.

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20.4 Agency Shop – Separation From Unit – Exception

The provisions of Section 20.2 above shall not apply during periods of separation from the bargaining unit by any employee otherwise subject to the Article but shall reapply to such employee following the first full pay period following the return of the employee to the bargaining unit.  The term “separation” includes layoffs, and leaves of absence of a duration of more than one (1) full pay period, whether paid or unpaid and for any reason, including disability.

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20.5 Agency Shop – Chargeable Costs

To the extent authorized by law, the costs of its collective bargaining activities shall be considered by the Association when making a determination of the amount of the agency shop service fee authorized by this Article.  Examples of chargeable costs include but are not limited to (1) expenditures for labor contract negotiations (e.g., the fees and expenses of the Association representative and staff support, including research of and preparation for negotiating matters within the scope of representation); and (2) expenditures for administration of contracts (e.g., meetings and discussions with management concerning grievances under the contracts, meetings with employees as part of grievance resolutions, and costs of representatives for arbitrations and staff support including research and preparation).

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20.6 Agency Shop – Non-Chargeable Costs

Currently, the following activities are not included in the calculation or determination of the agency shop service fee:

  1. lobbying or other political activity except as authorized by law;
  2. payments to affiliates, except for chargeable costs as authorized by law;
  3. social activities except as authorized by law;
  4. charitable and philanthropic activities;
  5. insurance and other benefit programs except as authorized by law; and
  6. any cost that, by law, cannot be included in a agency shop service fee.

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20.7 Agency Shop – Advance Reduction Of Service Fee

No agency shop service fee shall be collected from any employee until non-chargeable costs have been deducted from its amount. 

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20.8 Agency Shop – Notice Of Service Fee

All enrolled service fee payers shall receive annual written notice sent by certified mail from the Association, which includes legally adequate audited information concerning the breakdown of "chargeable" and "non-chargeable" expenses, a reasonably prompt opportunity as provided below to challenge the amount of the fee before an impartial decision-maker, and an escrow shall be set up by the Association for the amounts reasonably in dispute while such challenges are pending.  Specifically, such notice shall, at a minimum, include:

  1. An accounting report prepared, signed and verified by an independent auditor, who is a certified public accountant, for the overall purpose of providing an itemization of the expenditures of the Association in detail necessary for an employee reasonably to be able to determine what the Association spends on both chargeable items and non-chargeable items, and consider whether expenses designated as chargeable are related to the Association’s collective bargaining functions.  However, this requirement can be met without requiring or allowing non-members or the County to become the Association’s auditors.  The accounting will utilize data from the prior fiscal year.  At a minimum, this accounting report must:
    1. state the amount of the agency shop service fee and provide an overview of how the accounting reports were translated into calculation of this fee;
    2. disclose the Association’s major categories of expenses, including employee compensation, specifying the actual expenditures within each category and the amount spent in each expenditure for chargeable items and nonchargeable items;
    3. each major category and the allocations of expenditures therein for chargeable and non-chargeable expenses must be verified by the Auditor;
    4. disclose what percentage of total Association expenditures is allocable to chargeable items and what percentage is allocable to non-chargeable items;
    5. state the total sum of money the Association pays affiliates and demonstrate what percentage of such money is used for chargeable and what percentage is used for non-chargeable activities;
    6. disclose what percentage of regular membership dues is allocable to chargeable items and what percentage is allocable to non-chargeable items and, consequently, what percentage of dues will be collected as the agency shop service fee;
    7. explain the methodology used in producing this accounting report.
      To enable the independent auditor to prepare the accounting report, the Association shall provide the auditor access to all records reasonably necessary for such a preparation, including a record of the employee’s activities in sufficient detail to enable the auditor to make the necessary determinations of chargeable or non-chargeable.  In the event that payments are made to any other organization, the auditor shall be provided access either to such organizations’ records or relevant audited financial statements when reasonably necessary to prepare the above accounting.
  2. Instructions on filing a challenge to the amount of the agency shop service fee with the Association, which, at a minimum, shall provide as follows:
    1. non-members who wish to challenge collection of the agency shop service fee because the amount identified allegedly contains expenditures for non-chargeable activities must file an objection letter with the Association within 30 calendar days of receipt of notice (notice shall be rebuttably presumed to have been received no later than five (5) calendar days after it is postmarked).  A non-member may file a letter by presenting it to the Association business office in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested.  The non-member shall provide a copy of the letter to the County’s Employee Relations Manager within three (3) calendar days of its filing with the Association;
    2. the letter shall be signed by the challenger or the challenger’s agent under penalty of perjury and must state with specificity the particular expenditures being challenged, and the grounds for such challenge.  The letter must contain the name and mailing address of the challenger;
    3. during the pendency of the challenge, the amount of the agency shop service fee reasonably in dispute shall be placed in an escrow account established by the Association;
    4. within 30 calendar days after receipt, the Association shall schedule a date for arbitration, which shall be conducted in accordance with procedures established by American Arbitration Association. Pending the commencement of arbitration, the Association and the challenger may, by mutual agreement, attempt to resolve the dispute informally;
    5. the arbitrator shall be selected in accordance with the procedures of the American Arbitration Association;
    6. the Association shall have the burden of proving that the fee amount complies with this Article and applicable law; and
    7. The costs of the arbitrator and court reporter, if any, shall be borne entirely by the Association.  The challenging employee shall be responsible for his/her costs including but not limited to attorney fees and copies of the court reporter’s original transcript.

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20.9 Agency Shop – Association’s Constitutional Obligations

20.9.1 Agency Shop – Acknowledgment Obligations

It is recognized that this agency shop provision affects sensitive and important political speech and associational rights of county employees, which are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  In an effort to ensure that these rights are not infringed, this Article sets forth procedures and requirements that the Association must, at a minimum, follow.  Nothing in this Article or any other, however, relieves the Association of taking whatever additional action may legally be required to protect the constitutional rights of employees who are subject to an agency shop service fee under this Article.  The Association also acknowledges that the law in this area is constantly evolving, and therefore, recognizes that it has an ongoing obligation to monitor relevant legal developments, including the case law on this subject, and to adapt its conduct in implementing this Article as required.  The Association also recognizes that it is foreseeable that the employees subject to the agency shop service fee may suffer damages if this Article is not carried out in accordance with the First Amendment.  For this reason, and others, the County has strongly encouraged and still does strongly encourage the Association to consult with competent legal counsel throughout the term of this contract over the implementation of this Article.

20.9.2 Agency Shop – Non-Discrimination

No employee shall be discriminated against or harassed on the basis of his or her status as a non-Association member or a non-Association agency shop service fee payer.  Reasonable communication regarding the Association and/or Association membership shall not be considered discrimination or harassment under this Article.

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20.10 Agency Shop – Service Fee – Part-Time Employees

The financial obligations of employees who work less than full-time are subject to the agency shop service fee provisions of Section 20.2 above.  The agency shop service fee shall be set on a pro rata basis expressed as a percentage of salary. 

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20.11 Agency Shop – Notice Of New Employees

The following provisions will apply regarding notice of new employees:

  1. The County shall provide the Association with the names and addresses of new employees each pay period.
  2. Association officers shall be authorized to receive the names and addresses of new employees each pay period from the departmental payroll clerk.
  3. The names and addresses provided the Association shall be kept confidential.

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20.12 Agency Shop – Indemnification

The Association shall defend, indemnify, hold harmless, release and save the County, its agents and employees, from and against any and all claims, demands, suits, orders, judgments, expenses or other forms of liability arising out of or in connection with this Article and/or any action taken or not taken by the County and/or the Association under this Article, including, but not limited to, the collection and procedures for collection of agency shop service fees and the amount of such fees.  This Section shall be in addition to any other remedy available to the County under this contract or provision of law. 

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20.13 Agency Shop – Rescission Of Provision

The implementation of the provisions of this Article shall not prohibit or restrict an election to rescind this provision as provided by Government Code Section 3502.5.  This agency shop provision may be rescinded pursuant to Government Code Section 3502.5 or its successor provision. 

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20.14 Agency Shop – Recordkeeping And Reporting

The Association shall comply with the financial record-keeping and reporting requirements of Government Code Section 3502.5(d) or its successor provision. 

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20.15 Agency Shop – Violation Of Article 20

If a court finds the implementation of this Article in violation of constitutional law, the Association shall have sixty (60) days to comply with the Court’s order or the County may thereafter cancel Article 20.  In the interim, all collections of agency shop service fees by way of payroll deductions by the County shall be suspended, except as allowed by the Court.  Also except as allowed by the Court, no unpaid agency shop fee that would otherwise have been due during the time such violation existed may be collected retroactively after the violation was corrected. 

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20.16 Agency Shop – Non-Arbitrability Of

Except as provided below, Article 20 shall be grievable and arbitrable under Article 19 of this agreement.

The following are not grievable nor arbitrable under this agreement:

  1. the adequacy of the Association’s notice required by Section 20.8 above; and/or
  2. other issues bearing on the constitutionality of the Association’s collection of an agency shop service fee as prescribed by the courts.

Disputes regarding the amount of the agency shop service fee shall be arbitrable under this memorandum but only pursuant to Section 20.8 above.

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20.17 Maintenance Of Membership

On the date this agreement is executed,all Association members who had Association deduction authorizations on file with the Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector or the Association, or who may thereafter authorize in writing the deduction of their Association dues, shall remain on payroll deduction for the term of this Memorandum or so long as they are members of the representative units.  Association members may terminate payroll deductions of dues at the expiration of this Memorandum by giving written notice to the Association during a one-month period between 90 and 60 days prior to the expiration of the term.  The Association agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the County, its officers, agents and employees from any claim, liability or damage arising from this provision.

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